Marking McGwire: #9

Home run #: 9

Date: April 21

Opponent: Montreal Expos

Location: Olympic Stadium

Pitcher: Trey Moore

Score: 0-0

Inning: 3

Outs: 2

Runners on: 1

Distance: 437 feet

End of day Sammy Sosa total: 3

End of day Ken Griffey Jr. total: 8

It was a weird quirk but, until April 21 of that legendary season, Mark McGwire had yet to hit a home run in a ballpark that wasn’t Busch Stadium (save any spring training shots, of course).  A good part of that was the schedule, of course.  This was their 19th game but only their eighth away from home.  Surprisingly, he hadn’t hit one in the team’s first trip to Colorado, even as they put up double-digits in two of the three games.  Not getting one in Candlestick Park, where they went after leaving Colorado, was less surprising, given the conditions that old ballpark used to provide.

It wasn’t until reaching Montreal that McGwire reached the seats.  The game started as a pitching duel between Trey Moore for the Expos and Todd Stottlemyre for the Cards.  Moore got around the slugger in the first, striking him out after Delino Deshields singled and tried to steal second, only to be caught by Chris Widger.  Stottlemyre worked around F.P. Santangelo reaching on catcher’s interference by Tom Lampkin to start the game, then retired the next six in order.

So it was a scoreless game when the top of the third rolled around.  Stottlemyre tried to bunt his way on but was unsuccessful and Royce Clayton flied out.  Then, in what had to be a rare situation, Deshields drew a five pitch walk to bring up McGwire.  Big Mac wasted no time, jumping on the first pitch he saw from Moore and driving it in that left-center area that he loved so well.

The lead didn’t last long–Stottlemyre gave up a three-run shot to Shane Andrews in the fourth to put the Expos on top–but Brian Jordan had an RBI single and Ron Gant a solo homer in the fifth to put St. Louis on top to stay.  McGwire finished the day with a flyout, a strikeout, and a walk, leaving his average at .355 as the day ended.  We focus on the power but we forget Big Mac had a .299 average that season as well.  There were plenty of non-long ball hits to go around.

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